I’m a yogi, almost stereotypically so. I buy organic. I recycle. I drive a hybrid. I lean blue. I rescue dogs & cats. I buy the homeless paper. I do it because it’s what my heart wants me to do and not based on any preconceived notions or expectations from others. Sometimes my predictability disgusts me as much as it does my friends. It’s okay. I promise not to wear my aromatherapy oils around you.
And of course, as a parent, I want to pass my passions onto my child. Cecilia’s love for peace signs is not by accident or part of the trend (though the availability is nice). She was taught very early that peace signs mean “Love Everybody” long before she had a concept of peace. I think, for the most part, she does love everybody. She’s rather remarkably even-keeled. She doesn’t judge other. She rarely gets upset. For the most part, Cecilia has always had a very pleasant disposition.
For many years, we’ve participated in various types of charitable giving. It’s not a large amount, a few bucks here or there or $50-100 to the homeless shelter for holiday dinners, etc. Last year, as a family, we adopted an angel from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. We let Cecilia pick out the child - a girl around her age - and shopped for her as a family. I have to admit - I was afraid. I wasn’t sure that she, at age four, would understand that she was picking out toys for a child in need. After all, taking a child to the toy aisle at Target is like walking into the lion’s den and waving a steak directly in front of the lion’s eyes. There’s a chance you’ll walk out with an arm mauled off. But like the even-keeled kid that she is, she wasn’t phased.
Due to our chaotic schedule, this year I did most of the Angel Tree shopping by myself online. Cecilia did accompany me to several stores to find the right toy, including Toys’R'Us. Admittedly, I did buy her a small toy on that excursion. Any kid that can hang with her mom shopping in multiple stores in one deserves a $5 toy. However, given the toy allowance and little involvement in the other purchases, I was worried that maybe she didn’t quite get it this year.
Fast forward a few days. We were running into the grocery to pick up some bacon before the big “snowstorm” hit. (Or maybe it’s just because we needed bacon.) The Salvation Army bell ringer was outside. Cecilia asked we give him money before we went in the store. She insisted. Then, at checkout, she noticed the Angel Tree that they have set up inside the grocery - the one that provides Christmas dinner for a family for only $25. We did participated in this type of Angel last year too, and Cecilia LOVED hanging the paper ornament (also your tax receipt) on the tree. She asked if she could pick one of these out too. And I hesitated.
Here’s the thing. The first paycheck of the month pays two mortgages - one for the house and one for the farm. We also haven’t paid off one of credit cards from vacation. And I knew that we had a big medical bill coming. But then I looked on my cart. Organic produce. Freshly sliced deli meat and cheese. A couple packages of sushi for dinner. If I can justify those purchases, I am not in need. Twenty-five dollars will not break me. Hell, I probably won’t notice it. So I let my sweet hearted baby girl pick out a family from the tree.
And then when she asked for money for the children’s hospital bank at the register, I gave her the coins in my wallet. There are a few things that you just don’t say no to. Kids will forget about the toys you wouldn’t buy them at the store, but if you can help them keep an open heart, you’ve provided them with feelings and memories that will carry them through their lifetimes.